Oh No She Didn’t!
I recently found out that an agent in my marketplace was badmouthing me. Of course, I was extremely
disappointed. She happens to be very active in my farm and we often compete for the same listings, so it is inevitable that her name comes up in conversations with clients and potential clients, and I guess vice versa. Yes, I’m hurt. I actually held her in high esteem and would have recommended her in a heartbeat if an occasion arose that I had to refer business out of my company. And I even told clients that. We volunteered at the REALTOR Association together and I thought we held each other in mutual regard. This incident, which has confirmed certain whispered things that I heard in the past but chose to ignore, leaves me bitter, too. I guess writing about it here is my way of getting it off my chest without going through the agony of filing an ethics complaint.
You Can’t Pretend the Competition Doesn’t Exist
When I schedule a listing appointment and feel that I will be in competition with another agent, I always ask the seller what other agents she or he is interviewing in order to tailor my listing presentation to include items likely to position me as the obvious choice for the seller. For instance, if I am up against a newbie, I may spend a little more time illustrating how my experience has benefited other clients or, if the other agent works for a certain companies, I may concentrate on the global reach of my marketing plan and my history of working for different kinds of real estate companies and my subsequent business choices. My listing presentation repertoire is pretty large and I do not usually use all of tools in my arsenal at every appointment. So, getting this bit of information from the seller before going in helps me to be sure I don’t skip something that will be on the seller’s mind, because I know that they don’t always ask all the questions that they are thinking.
Inquiring about who they are interviewing also helps put the seller at ease, I believe, because I am letting them know that it is OK for them to be talking to other agents. This eliminates the need for them to lie or be sneaky about issues related to their other appointments, etc, and, if I don’t get the listing (yeah, it happens on occasion) the communication expectation is there and I am able to get some great feedback on why I lost.
So, asking who I am up against works for me. But…BUT…the one thing I never ever do with this information is bash the other agent. “Oh yeah, So and So does this” or “He doesn’t do that” or “I am much better than her because….” is not a dialogue I enter in to. My presentations are always about my seller, my experience and what I have to offer them that is unique. If I need to highlight certain aspects of my program to help position me as the obvious choice, that is one thing. But to openly engage in an “I’m better than she is” conversation will not ever happen.
How DO You Respond?
If the seller asks me if I know an agent or if an agent is any good (because they DO ask sometimes), my answer is always complimentary or neutral: “Yes, I know him and have worked with him. I respect her work ethic” or “I think I have heard the name but I don’t always have the opportunity to meet all of the agents in our 1200 member area”. If I have any negative thoughts about someone, I won’t discuss it because 1) it’s usually unethical (see Article 15), and 2) it’s tacky and dangerous to one’s reputation. To stoop to the level of saying derogatory things about the competition, especially if it is not based on fact, makes me look much worse than the offending statements would make the other agent.
We aren’t, after all, running political campaigns, are we?